Austria has accused Britain of being a haven for money laundering and tax evasion in response to pressure from EU to reveal depositors’ information to tax authorities.
In a meeting in Dublin, Europe’s finance ministers increased pressure on Austria to follow Luxembourg’s example and let information on European banking depositors be exposed to EU tax authorities.
But, Maria Fekter, the Austrian finance minister, promised to “fight like a lion” against the demands, refusing to change her country’s laws until Britain ends tax haven and banking secrecy laws in offshore financial centres, such as the Channel Islands.
“Austria is sticking to bank secrecy. We fight tax evasion and money laundering,” she said.
“Great Britain has many money laundering centres and tax havens in its immediate legal remit – the Channel Islands Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands. These are all hot spots for tax evasion and money laundering”, the minister added.
Austria is opposed to German-led demands for the automatic exchange of information on banking depositors with other EU countries.
The Austrian finance minister has described Britain as “the island of the blessed for tax evasion and money laundering”, comparing British offshore banking to the Cypriot financial sector that is to be forcibly restructured as part of a eurozone bailout.
“Just as we urged the abolition of sealed foundations in the Cyprus rescue to drain the money laundering swamp, we must demand the same of the UK,” she wrote in an article for Kurier, an Austrian newspaper.
dailyalternative | alternative news – Austria: Britain’s haven for money laundering, tax evasion